OCCUPIED TUCSON CITIZEN
Religion is a con game. All over the world people are told assorted lies to keep them in line, and have them trade their meager material goods for pie-in-the-sky. There are no gods or devils or angels or ghosts or vampires or zombies or any similar tomfoolery. The fight for atheism is the fight for truth. In time, truth will checkmate lies.
Here is the skinny on the Christian religion and its relationship to the Roman empire. (This is not meant to single out the Christian religion, the other religions are just as bad or worse.)
No one knows very much about Jesus Christ or the disciples. There is little or no historical evidence, Jesus and the disciples are always used as spokespersons for what the person telling the story wants politically in the present. No one cares about what really happened (as it was then so it is today.)
Quelle (the document has never been found, but has been reconstructed by scholars) was probably the first thing written about Jesus. He is presented as a miracle worker (miracles are always in the past) and a messianic character who will lead the Jewish people (like David) to victory with God on his side. Little attention is given in this account to Jesus’ birth or death.
Mark, c. (Common Era the old A.D.) 70 to 85 (modern scholars are unsure of the dates of any of the Gospels or even where they were written) is the first of the Gospels written about Jesus. It was written in the period immediately after the first Jewish revolt. Jerusalem has been brutally sacked; the temple has been destroyed, so the concept of Jesus as a messianic character does not have wide acceptance. Mark uses Quelle but expands that to the messianic mysteries (there won’t be the kingdom of earth but there will be pie-in-the-sky.) Mark does this by saying at the very end of the gospel that Jesus’ tomb was found empty – implying that Jesus might have risen from the dead. Matthew, writing approximately 10 to 15 years later, will expand on this theme (using mostly Mark as his source). He will have Jesus rising from the dead, and talking to the women who who have come to attend his body. Luke c. 80 to 90, lifts story elements from Mark and Matthew (and probably embellishes popular romantic novels of the day) writes of a Jesus who not only rises from the dead, but who also goes and preaches on the Mountain. At this late date it is unlikely there is anyone still alive who could say, “Hey, I was there and no dead person came alive”. By the time of John (who can say pretty much anything he wants, since it is now c. 80 to 100) it is now the Jews who killed Jesus, and not the Romans. Christians have by this time become marginalized from the Jewish community, and so John is already speaking primarily to the Romans. The Romans don’t take to this story too well. However, they do invite some Christians to visit their Coliseum which is only fair since it was built on the loot of the sacked Jerusalem.
Then comes the second c.132 Jewish Revolt, against the Romans – as if the first one hadn’t been bad enough! The harsh division between Jews and Christians probably occurs in the second Jewish revolution, also known as the Bar Kokhba revolution. Christians decide they will not fight with Bar Kokhba. He claims to be a descendant of David, and claims further that like David he has the power of God behind him. He is supported by most of the Jewish population and by many of the powerful Rabbis. The Christians claim that they won’t support him because they already have a Messiah, however more than likely they know perfectly well that there are no gods to protect anyone. The Romans brutally crush this revolution (perhaps god was off with his many acts of genocide against the Philistines oh wait, that is the Old Testament… sorry) however nothing flippant should be said about the horrors that were perpetrated on the followers of Bar Kokhba no matter what they believed, as the Cave of Horrors so clearly attests. The Romans ruled their empire with extreme prejudice. In the bitter times which followed, the gulf between the Christians and the Jewish community intensified. Christians of course fought among themselves (as it was then so it is now). The Romans probably would have eradicated this upstart religion as they did many others, except for a complicated series of events.
The Roman Emperor Constantine in the early fourth century was losing the empire to his rivals, when he had a dream (as the legend goes). He saw a cross on the sun (his favorite God) and determined from this that he should convert to Christianity. More than likely Constantine, a politician as brilliant as he was brutal, realized he was losing but suspected that with help from the Christians he could win, so he struck a deal with the Christians. The upshot is that Christianity (now an official Roman religion) helps to save Constantine’s regime. Constantine saves the Roman empire by shrewdly moving the capital from Rome to centrally located Byzantium. In an act of Christian modesty Constantine changes the name to Constantinople. The truth is that Christianity today has more to do with Constantine than with Jesus Christ. Constantine pretty much dictates to the Christians what’s in and what’s out!
When anyone tells you there are spooks up in the sky, remember Bertrand Russell and ask them to show you the evidence. When they don’t produce evidence (because there isn’t any) explain some scientific theory to them. It probably won’t do any good, but give it a try. If they ask you to accept implausible stories on faith, remember Melville’s “”Bartieby the Scrivener a story of Wall Street ” and tell Bernie Made Off, “I prefer not to!”